Looking into the causes of weight gain in the modern western human, is like entering a maze. The internet is the worst place for getting quality, timely information. I’m trying to unravel this mystery for myself, and it is not easy. This is the first of series of articles on this subject as I go deeper into my study of nutrition and coaching people to get healthy.
Types of diabetes
There are three common types of diabetes:
- Type 1 which is caused by a pancreatic failure to produce enough insulin, which requires the person take insulin and monitor their blood sugar. These individuals are born with this condition.
- Type 2 which is caused by a prolonged exposure to too much insulin (hyperinsulimia) and causes the body to not recognize the insulin, resulting in the production of more insulin. This increase in insulin creates a scenario where glucose is forced into the periphery and the organs.
- Gestational Diabetes occurs during pregnancy. Research continues on why this occurs in some women and not others.
A New Diet
In the 1970s the FDA recommended diet was changed to reduce/remove fat and to increase carbohydrate intake, based on a flawed science implicating dietary fat as the cause of increased body fat and heart disease. The result as been a yearly increase in the obesity rate as well as heart problems.
Food is made up of water, micronutrients and three macro-nutrients: fat, protein and carbohydrates. If we reduce the caloric intake from one of these macronutrients we’ll need to increase the other two to make up the deficit (2000 cal/day = x fat + y carb + z protein). Since most of our protein comes from meat and dairy, which contains fat as well—we as a society increased our intake of carbohydrates to make up the caloric deficit.
Fat is not the problem
The human body needs a minimum of 70-100 grams of protein—about 300 calories—to support growth and tissue repair. We need another 6-10 grams about 75 caloris of linoleic acid—a type of fat that is essential to health—while the body has zero biological need for carbohydrates!
Skewing our diet towards the use of carbohydrates with the misguided intention of reducing body fat is/was a huge mistake. Carbohydrates, as glucos or blood sugar, stimulates the body to store fat. On the other hand we could eat a handful of fat and little if any metabolic hormonal reaction (glucagon and insulin production) would occur. This is because fat is essentially metabolically inert, only a small portion of the triglyceride (fat) molecule, called the glycerol backbone, can be used as glucose. If we drink the low fat chocolate milk who’s label is on the right, the high sugar availability will cause our insulin level to shoot through the roof along with our blood glucose, and as long as we are not in an energy deficit the excess glucose will end up in fat storage.
With the reduction of fat in common protein sources like dairy, the sugar content was increased to make the product palatable. We reduced our fat intake, on the assumption that fat made us fat, and increased sugar in our food to compensate for the lack of taste. The result is that our level of obesity is growing at 5%/year. Obesity is seen as the pre-cursor to type 2 diabetes, but in reality type 2 diabetes, undetected, is possibly the reason why we become obese and stuck in an “open loop” feedback system. This open loop system has been given a label “Syndrome X” or insulin resistance.
The label is from low fat chocolate milk, in the 12 oz. serving there is 44 grams of sugar added to make it taste good. When we think of sugar it’s probably the white refined sugar that comes to mind. In the body carbohydrates are also a sugar, the presence of which drives the pancreas to produce insulin to move the excess out of the blood stream and into the cells to be used for energy production or into adipose cells for fat storage. When we eat a piece of fruit we get an insulin spike in reaction to the fructose contained in the fruit. If we drink fruit juice—freshly squeezed orange juice—we get a bigger insulin spike since more fructose enters the blood stream without the delaying effect of the fruit’s fiber.
If you want to get fat, stop eating real fat and increase your big gulp intake—this 40 grams of sugar will wreck havoc with your metabolism and start you on the right track. I know the Big Gulp Diet works to gain weight as I followed this and was able to go from 180 lbs. to 300 lbs. in 5 years, thanks to a quart bottle of ginger ale every night and a pasta and fast food addiction. At 180 lbs.—the weight I started the diet on—I was probably 20% body fat or 36 pounds. At 300 lbs I was closer to 40% body fat composition or 120 lbs.—that’s like carrying a couple of bags of grain around all day, really good for the knees!
I own a gym and I wish I could say that the best way to lose weight is to workout, but I would be lying to you if I did. The best way to lose weight is to combine a targeted exercise program—designed by a qualified coach—with a diet based on meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and NO SUGAR. Keep a log of your exercise and your food intake. Log how each of these make you feel as well as how much and what type you took in. Find time to eat in a way that nurtures you—I don’t care if you watch the news—as you nourish your body. If you keep a log and want to review it contact Integral for a No Sweat Introduction.